Crisis in Comfort

Many of us have often wondered why so many people in modern society are dealing with high levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and even suicide, when people who have it worse – those who are enduring starvation, abject poverty, disease, and the like – seem more psychologically and emotionally durable. Essentially, as societies become richer and more comfortable, we seem to trade physical pain for the mental kind. Why?

First, those who live in poorer and more unstable parts of the world may still have the same mental problems we do, it’s just that they don’t have the resources to detect them. Furthermore, in a state of survival, it’s not preferable or acceptable to admit to weaknesses.

Therein lies the second point: it’s been argued that, ironically, living without a state of crisis is itself a kind of crisis. When we have to struggle everyday to survive, we have no time to reflect – instead, we act quickly, decisively, and intuitively. But living comfortably (which for most of human history was a rare thing) means we’re forced to adapt to a condition in which we’re bombarded with worries. We think too much about too many things, and become paralyzed with complex philosophical and personal dilemmas we otherwise wouldn’t have time to worry about.

So goes the theory by the way. What say you all?

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